Be rewarded with dollars instead of points with a cashback credit card.
Guide to cashback credit cards and offers
A cashback credit card gives you rewards in the form of dollars or credit on your account. These offers vary between cards, with some earning cashback as part of an ongoing rewards program and others providing a one-off cashback reward offer for new customers.
In fact, there are three main ways you can earn cashback on your credit card purchases, which we’ve outlined here:
- Cashback when you make an eligible credit card purchase. For example, if you make a credit card purchase of HK$1,000 and there is a 2% cashback promotion, the credit card provider will give you HK$20 back.
- Cashback promotional offers on sign up. Some cards have a cashback promotion for new customers. These offers usually require you to apply before a set date and spend a specific amount within the first few months you have the card.
- Cashback via a credit card rewards program. As well as using points for flights or merchandise, some credit card rewards programs give you the option to redeem your points for cashback on your account.
Is there a catch?
Just like other reward credit cards, you need to meet the spending requirements or eligibility requirements to earn cashback. For example, cashback may only be earned on “eligible purchases”, with common exclusions including cash advances, balance transfers and the Automatic Add Value Service on Octopus. Some cashback credit cards may also cap or limit the amount of money you can earn per month or year. Make sure you read the card’s Terms and Conditions for more information.
How can I compare cashback credit cards?
Here are the key details to look at when you’re comparing different cashback credit card options:
- The cashback amount. Weigh up the value of the cashback you can earn based on your spending habits and the overall cost of the card (i.e. the annual fee and purchase rate, or the overseas purchase handling fee and overseas spending rebate). This will help you decide if the rewards are worth it.
- Reward caps. Some cashback cards limit the amount of money you can get from them. For example, you might be able to get 1% cashback per HK$1 but have a limit on how much you can earn back each month.
- Introductory offer requirements. If the cashback reward is offered as a special promotion, make sure you understand the terms and conditions before signing up. Depending on the offer, you may want to look for the date the offer expires, spending requirements or participating retailers to take advantage of the cashback reward.
- Ineligible transactions. For some cards you can only earn cashback on certain types of purchase, such as spending in designated retailers or sectors, including dining or travel, and payments made overseas. Certain types of transactions are also ineligible, such as cash advances, bill payments, gambling transactions and the Automatic Add Value Service on Octopus. Check these details before you get a card to decide if it suits your spending habits.
- Rewards value. If you have a card that earns points and want to redeem them for a cashback reward, check to see if there are other rewards (such as flights, travel upgrades or merchandise) that have a retail or regular price value that is higher than the cashback amount. This will help you get the most value out of your rewards.
- Annual fee. Weigh the card’s annual fee against the cashback you expect to earn to work out how much value you’ll get from the rewards. Ideally, the amount of cashback you get should be worth more than the annual fee.
- Other card features. Make sure you also consider the card’s standard variable purchase rate, as well as any additional charges, fees and complimentary extras. Along with the rewards and annual fee, these features will help you decide if the card suits all your needs.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of cashback credit cards?
Weighing up some of the pros and cons could help you determine whether a cashback credit card is right for you.
- Money in your pocket. This type of reward offer gives you the chance to get money back for paying with plastic.
- Dollar value. Instead of earning points per HK$1 spent, cashback credit cards offer a straightforward dollar value for the rewards you earn.
- Other extra features. Credit cards with cashback promotions may offer other features such as shopping vouchers, rewards programs and welcome gifts.
- High annual fees. Credit cards with cashback rewards may charge a higher annual fee than no-frills credit cards. Ideally, the value you get back from the rewards should be higher than the annual fee.
- Rates of interest. Cashback credit cards may have higher interest rates than no-frills credit cards. Make sure you can repay the amount you’ve charged for the cashback (as well as other purchases) before the end of the statement period.
- Limited rewards. Some cashback credit cards may have a cap on the number of times you can redeem a cashback offer. For example, some many only allow you to receive the cashback once. Others may limit the amount of cashback you can earn in a set period of time.
How to apply for a cashback credit card
If you’ve decided you want a cashback credit card, you can apply online or in person at a bank. But before you apply, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and have the necessary documents needed to complete your application. These will vary from card to card, but you can usually expect the following eligibility:
- Age. Cardholders must be at least 18 years of age.
- Residential status. Most credit cards require cardholders to be resident in Hong Kong.
- Minimum income. Some credit cards have a minimum income requirement. The level will vary between cards, but usually starts at HK$150,000 p.a. for basic cards and between HK$240,000 and HK$600,000 for higher-tier products.
- Credit history. Hong Kong credit card issuers require applicants to have a good credit history.
Necessary documents and information
- Proof of identification. You’ll be required to provide a copy of your Hong Kong Identity Card and a copy of your passport if you are not a permanent resident for proof of identification.
- Proof of income. Requirements vary from bank to bank, but you may be asked to provide your employment contract or a letter from your employer, as well as proof of income for one to three months.
- Proof of address. You will need to provide proof of your residential address, such as a bank statement or utility bill, issued within the past one to three months.
Response times from banks for credit card applications vary. Some will give you a decision almost immediately, while for others you will hear back after seven to 10 working days. If you’re approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail within 1-2 weeks. If the card has a cashback offer, you should read the Terms and Conditions to confirm the exact details and when you can expect to receive the cashback credit in your account.
If you’re looking for a new credit card, a product with a cashback offer could provide you extra incentive to pay on plastic. While cashback offers can be rewarding, they always come with terms and conditions, so make sure you understand what these are and compare your options before you apply for the card.